Thursday, April 13, 2006

Emerging? or just left for dead

So there's been some awesome posts recently on the issue of what 'emerging' artist means and the artist's relationship to this explosion of art collecting - rather the artist and the market. For the emerging question, Edward Winkleman has the best post and a bazillion savy takes and observations on his thread. Its is a must read because not only do people get into their confusion and greivances over this industry term but the whole viral family is touched on - emerging artist, emerging curator, emerging market. Basically no one talking about art and what kind of art you make but rather are you 'emerging' (most desireable) or mid-career (huh?)- who collects your work?

So many artists I know who have been knocking around for a few years (5-10) constantly bemoan their anxiety of being passed over by curators and gallerists. People are excited to meet them until they hear their age - or worse that they still don't have that hot Chelsea gallery or museum show under their belt by 32 - what failures! This dismissal largely coming from people with minimal or no art education, mostly on the job training because they happened into Chelsea upon their arrival to NY a couple of years back and love fashion so why not curate!! Let's open a gallery and sell t-shirts too! This is glib but you know the 'type'

Ivan Karp always said that there is no state exam to be a 'gallerist' - or a curator? ( sorry curatorial studies )

The bottom line seems to be that at the ripe old age of 31 you're either IN or cut off from the fountain of youth and those that slavishly drink from it - galleries, curators,collectors. Its land speculation ultimatley - gold in them there hills! What else could it be beyond specualtion and packaging all through the MTV filtered youth fetish gripping American minds - and loins. The young frankenstein genius myth with alll 7 heads.

What on earth can a 24 year old MFA grad have to really say about anything? 3-6 years of art training (especially in what passes for education in this country) just isn't much time to process art history and cultural critique let alone get a solid handle on materials and personal vision.

I'm assuming there is art history training here - one has to wonder these days (exhibit A: SCOPE) I know there are young 'geniuses' but that is a rarity. Most artists need time and really only figure it out between 30 and 40. Francis Bacon, Agnes Martin, ..Matisse - all late bloomers!

It really does mirror the craze where people funneled millions into to small 'promising' companies with out doing any research on the viability of that company - we now know the result of that! In the end it hurts young artists because they gain a distorted sense of importance and I fear are forced into a box way too early to ever escape should they want a direction change while making thirty-sometings suicidal in the process. The impact on art history - what I believe should be a counter balance to commercial culture - can't be good.

The joke may be on the inexperienced collector too as the majority of artworks purchased will never bring more than $5000 - $20,000 on the secondary market. If prices are inflated, and I believe they are, their investment will be on the low end of that scale. Of course if they are buying works that they truly love then none of this matters - but let's face facts, a sizeable portion of acquired art is viewed only as product. What I would like to see added to this art market discussion is an honest analysis of how the art market is paralleling the real estate market. Is there a natural, inherent relationship? Here's a great comprehensive read on the market that's been making the rounds the last couple of weeks from the New Yorker.

This is a must read for anyone taking art seriously - whether as a practioner, collector or general fanatic. We live at an interesting impasse and many opportunities are now coming to light for artists to take more control of their futures so these issues are important to get a handle on. Its not just self expression after all!

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